The Lincoln Budget Board, responsible for evaluating and recommending a complete budget, wanted to share our long-term concerns after carefully considering the 2023 budget. We had many conversations about cost increases, not limited to the budget but in everyday items. Our focus was to deliver a budget that balanced revenues and expenses to maximize long-term value.
Volunteers elected from each district make up the Budget Board. We are not experts on the day-to-day management of the town or the School Department’s curriculum directions, but we have a responsibility to understand how the budget will serve the community as a whole. Some were born into Lincoln, grew up in the schools, raised families, coached sports, and still base directions on stores that no longer exist. Some members chose to make Lincoln their home later in life, but we all share a desire to protect what makes Lincoln an exceptional place to call home for years to come.
The last few years have been difficult. We hope the worst of the pandemic is behind us, but much of the hard work to rebuild our economy lies ahead. This economic pressure will create uncertainty about revenue sources such as state aid and commercial real estate. Lincoln, historically, has benefited from a healthy ratio of personal and commercial tax revenue. Business culture is changing, working from home reduces the demand for offices, and some companies seek more business-friendly climates in other states. Residential property values have increased by 29 percent, outpacing the growth of commercial properties, which saw a 7 percent increase. As more of Lincoln’s footprint becomes developed, it will stress the infrastructure and plateau, leading to difficult decisions about our town’s services and landscape. These changes will see residents fund a more significant portion of the burden if we as a community cannot find innovative ways to attract new revenue.
These concerns guide the Budget Board in evaluating each line. Looking to highlight areas to investigate, we remind ourselves that pennies lead to dollars. We consider historical data to forecast expenses, revenue, and obligations. We look at the overall story to identify areas where preventative spending is the best use of funds. In some cases, we increased lines with an awareness of the holistic impact on the budget.
We feel the impact of increases to the tax levy as residents ourselves. We also participate in the great services provided to our community, such as concerts, fields, and even overlooked items, like trash collection. We, as a board, evaluate the long-term impact of the budget. It is our small contribution to the collaborative government our charter has established, where all aspects of our community need to work together. On May 9, we would appreciate your contribution by attending the Financial Town Meeting and engaging, not just as someone who lives here but as a citizen.
Carl Brunetti, chair
Michael Babbitt, vice chair
Rhonda Lacombe, secretary